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Policy in Indigenous Setting

Policy in Indigenous Setting

Essay 2 – Assessment 3 – The purpose of this assignment is to provide you with the opportunity to develop and promote a strategy for implementing a policy in an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander setting.

Improving Access to Primary Healthcare for the Aboriginal Australians

The Aboriginal Australians, despite being the first inhabitants of the country, face major disparities in the healthcare sector, which leads to low health and well-being standards for them compared to the other Australians. Generally, the Aboriginal populations have limited access to primary healthcare facilities, a fact that has shaped major campaigns to improve healthcare services for them which have not as successful as expected. Improving access to primary healthcare for the Aboriginal Australians surpasses the need for services which are within the populationsā€™ proximity (Freeman et al., 2014, p. 358). The population requires access to healthcare services which are cognizant of their cultural needs and historical challenges (Durey, McEvoy, Taylor, & Bessarab, 2016, p. 7). The Aboriginal Australians hold totally different cultures compared to the Australian immigrant populations, which need to be considered in the dissemination of healthcare services. Similarly, the Aboriginals face distinct challenges such as discrimination which also make their health matters complex. This paper aims to develop and promote a strategy to implement the policy of improved healthcare access to primary healthcare for the Aboriginal populations in Australia.

The complexity of the Aboriginal populationsā€™ healthcare warrants the application of a well-thought strategy that aims at not only availing healthcare services but also making them culture-compliant. Another aspect that needs to be considered in facilitating access to primary healthcare for Aboriginal Australians is affordability. The Aboriginal Australians are economically oppressed and might not be able to pay for most healthcare services (Government of Western Australia- Department of Health, 2017). The best strategy that should be used in boosting accessibility for primary healthcare for Aboriginal Australians is engaging the Aboriginal community in the development and delivery of primary healthcare services. Adopting this strategy implies that both the Government of Australia and the health sector acknowledges and respects the differences between the Aboriginal communities and the other populations that live in Australia.

Following the settlement of immigrant races in Australia, the Aboriginal Australians were forced to assimilate into their cultures. However, even the individuals who assimilated were not accorded equal rights as the other races. The minority status of the Aboriginal communities in Australia following colonization left them powerless and unable to participate in major national issues including those that affect their lives directly (McCalman, Tsey, & Bainbridge, 2012, p. 7). The Aboriginal people have been ever since unable to control their lives. In the healthcare sector, for instance, Aboriginal Australians are often exposed to culturally unacceptable healthcare procedures, some of which discourage them from seeking healthcare. The ill-health of Aboriginal Australia is further escalated by their exposure to major health risks such as smoking, poor housing and poverty.

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The most fundamental aspect of improving the Aboriginal primary healthcare access in Australia is building trust and creating mutual respect with the communities. Ideally, a greater percentage of Aboriginal Australians live in close proximity to healthcare facilities (Harfield, Davy, & McArthur, 2018, p. 6). However, they rarely seek their services in fear of their values being compromised. Partnering with the communities will not only make them understand the essentiality of primary healthcare services but also enlighten the healthcare practitioners with the values that ought not to be compromised in the provision of care (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2016). The communities will gain control of their own healthcare which will empower them to make informed decisions about their health and their well-being. The healthcare practitioners, on the other hand, will understand the most appropriate health provision practices which do not compromise the values of the Aboriginal communities.

To increase the utilization of the healthcare facilities by the Aboriginal Australians, there is a need for the staffs of the healthcare facilities to build strong bonds with the Aboriginal groups. For instance, healthcare providers may consult the elders of varied groups on the best practices to implement to improve accessibility (AIHW, 2014). These practices may include setting up spaces strictly for the Aboriginal Australians and training some staff to handle the patients from the culture in an acceptable manner. Such practices will enhance the acceptability of healthcare services and ultimately, the accessibility of primary healthcare among the Aboriginals (Government of Western Australia- Department of Health, 2013). Employing more staffs from Aboriginal descent could also act as a pull factor for the utilization of the healthcare services by the Aboriginals.

The partnerships between healthcare providers and the Aboriginal communities ought to go beyond engaging individuals in the provision of healthcare. While the Aboriginal communities may have specific elders who act as their spokesmen, healthcare provision in the context of the Aboriginals also ought to be as individualized as possible (AIHW, 2014). There are individual factors that shape the health of the Aboriginals, which are beyond the statements made by the community spokesmen. Such factors include unequal access to employment, exposure to neighbourhood violence, and genetic health risks. Developing healthcare services that address these factors is essential in ensuring that the impact of these factors is reduced, which will improve the health and well-being of the Aboriginals significantly.

Conclusion

Improving access to primary healthcare services is a widely accepted aspect of enhancing the health outcomes and general well-being of all individuals. In the perspective of the Aboriginal Australians, ensuring accessibility is very vital considering that the populations have faced a history of discrimination which has resulted into lower health standards compared to the rest of the Australians. The Aboriginal populations face a greater disease burden, yet there are very few healthcare facilities which offer them culturally-acceptable health care. If the Australian government and the health sector genuinely want to improve the healthcare standards for the Aboriginal Australians, then there is a need to work closely with the communities to device healthcare plans that favour them. Accessibility to healthcare, in the Aboriginal Australiansā€™ viewpoint, surpasses the idea of living in close proximity with a healthcare facility. Just like other Australians, the Aboriginal populations need to easily locate a healthcare facility that is compliant with their cultural values. Involving the Aboriginal people in the planning of their healthcare will not only help in developing acceptable healthcare standards but also convincing them to seek health care attention.

References

AIHW. (2014, July 29). Access to primary health care relative to need for Indigenous Australians. Retrieved from Australian Institute of Health and Welfare: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/indigenous-australians/access-to-primary-health-care-relative-to-need/contents/summary

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2016). Australiaā€™s health 2016. Retrieved from Australian Institute of Health and Welfare: https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/01d88043-31ba-424a-a682-98673783072e/ah16-6-6-indigenous-australians-access-health-services.pdf.aspx

Durey, A., & Thompson, S. C. (2012). Reducing the health disparities of Indigenous Australians: time to change focus. BMC Health Services Research, 12(151), 1-11.

Durey, A., McEvoy, S., Taylor, K., & Bessarab, D. (2016). Improving healthcare for Aboriginal Australians through effective engagement between community and health services. BMC Health Services Research, 16(224), 1-13.

Freeman, T., Edwards, T., Baum, F., Lawless, A., Jolley, G., Javanparast, S., & Francis, T. (2014). Cultural respect strategies in Australian Aboriginal primary health care services: beyond education and training of practitioners. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 38(4), 355-361.

Government of Western Australia- Department of Health. (2013). Aboriginal Health. Retrieved from Government of Western Australia: https://ww2.health.wa.gov.au/Improving-WA-Health/About-Aboriginal-Health

Government of Western Australia- Department of Health. (2017). Implementation Guide for the WA Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing Framework 2015-2030. Retrieved from Department of Health: https://ww2.health.wa.gov.au/~/media/Files/Corporate/general%20documents/Aboriginal%20health/PDF/13283-implementation-guide-final.pdf

Harfield, S. G., Davy, C., & McArthur, A. (2018). Characteristics of Indigenous primary health care service delivery models: a systematic scoping review. Global Health, 14(12), 1-11.

McCalman, J., Tsey, K., & Bainbridge, R. (2012). The characteristics, implementation and effects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health promotion tools: a systematic literature search. BMC Public Health, 12(143), 1-9.

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